Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Perversion of The Cross of Christ

Historically, the cross has been the most prominent symbol of Christianity ever since Jesus died on the original "old rugged cross" on Golgotha. But over time, symbols can become transmutated, until the people who use them forget what they're really all about.

There is something strange indeed about seeing a fan of hip hop music (or a hip hop "artist"), draped in absurd amounts of ostentatious jewelry (also known as "bling"), particularly when that jewelry includes a big and gaudy gilded cross pendant. It's especially strange when you consider that such a person is likely to endorse or play "music" which is laced with profanity, misogyny and lyrics which endorse recreational drugs, gang violence and other aspects of the "thug" life. None of those things are even remotely congruent with Christian discipleship.

Of course, it isn't just African-American thugs from the hood who are clueless when it comes to the cross. Some wealthy white folks are equally clueless. Last night I was at Barnes & Noble, and I was browsing through The New Yorker magazine. On page 93 of the 7/17/2007 issue, there was an ad for Shrubsole. The ad featured a cross pendant, decorated with "Montana sapphire and diamond". The price tag? $14,500!

Wow. Imagine how many hungry children one could feed for that kind of money. One could probably even build a nice home for a person living in a third world country, using that kind of money.

For that matter, that kind of money would go a long way in helping the poor right here in the United States. I've gone years when I didn't make any more than $14,500, and that was when I wasn't unemployed.

What kind of idiot thinks that spending nearly 15 grand on a cross pendant is a good way to express one's faith in Christ? And what kind of idiot wears a cross for reasons which are unrelated to a desire to express faith in the One who died on the cross more than 2,000 years ago?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Guess It Beats Working For A Living

I just came across a news story about how Paris Hilton had chosen to sue Hallmark Cards for using the phrase "that's hot" on one of their greeting cards.

In response, here's what I would love to say to her, if she and I should ever meet:

"Paris, you brainless bimbo, you did not invent the phrase 'that's hot'. People were using that phrase long before you were ever born. So kindly explain why you now think that you have an exclusive right to use that common-as-dirt phrase and to sue others who use it without your permission."

I felt the same way when I saw that McDonalds had "trademarked" the phrase, "I'm lovin' it." I mean, come on. The folks at McDonalds basically borrowed that phrase from street culture and made it their own. Anyone who thinks that no one had ever used that phrase prior to hearing it in a McDonald's commercial is seriously clueless.

Hey, I have an idea. I think I'll trademark common phrases such as "I love you," "Season's Greetings" and so forth. Then every time any greeting card company wants to use those phrases in the future, they'll have to pay me royalties. In fact, I'll get royalties whenever any husband tells his wife that he loves her. Now won't that be peachy! With the windfall I'm sure to make from all of the lawsuits I'm sure to win, I'll never have to work another day in my life.

Of course, I'm being sarcastic, because I would never actually do such a thing. I believe in copyright protection for genuinely creative people, but a legal system which allows people to claim exclusive rights over phrases which are commonly used by numerous English speaking people is a legal system which has run amuck.

Now all I have to do is pray that no one has trademarked the phrase "run amuck".

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Possible CD Cover Design

Here's a CD cover design I created for a CD of my instrumental music. The black background is just for display here. The colorful background was created in Photoshop. It would be printed "full bleed". (I've checked to make sure that there's an adequate bleed area and an adequate "safe area".) Needless to say, the original image has higher resolution than the image displayed here.

I think the colors here look reminiscent of the tie dye T-shirts I bought a few years ago.

The title was suggested by the image. I was thinking about God, not about myself, when I came up with that phrase!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Public Vulgarity in the City on the Lake

In many respects, Chicago can be a beautiful city. But it also has its ugly side. For some reason, this city seems to attract large numbers of people who like to indulge in crude and vulgar public behavior. I'm not saying that it's completely unique in that respect, but I lived in the Boston area for 7 years during the 80's, and I don't recall seeing things that were nearly as bad as some of the things I've seen while living here.

When I first moved here in 1991, there were a number of episodes in which I witnessed public urination, in the CTA subway platforms and even on city sidewalks in broad daylight.

Most of the time, it would be a man who would whip it out and just start peeing right there in front of any passersby who might happen to be in the area. I thought that was bad enough. What was even worse, in my opinion, was the time I was exiting the El platform over on Wabash. As I descended the staircase, I saw to my shock that a woman was standing on the sidewalk (not far from the Ritz Camera store), with her big behind up in the air. She apparently had decided that it was too much trouble to walk a block or two north and use the public restroom located in the Palmer House hotel. (She also could have used the restroom in the basement at Marshall Fields, as another option.) Instead, she was peeing on the sidewalk in full view of anyone who cared to watch (or didn't care to watch, for that matter).

I also vividly remember the night I left the Borders bookstore shortly before they closed for the evening. As I walked home, I saw a guy approaching me in the darkness of the evening. There was something odd about his appearance, but it took a moment or two for my mind to register what it was. He had his zipper opened, and his "manhood" was hanging out for all to see. He wasn't even urinating at the time, he was just walking down the street with his genitals hanging out. I can only assume that he was crazy, drunk, high or all three of those things. If I'd had a cell phone on me, I'd have immediately called the police, but I didn't have access to a phone, and by the time I reached one, I figured he'd already have been spotted by someone else anyway.

When I first moved here, I was out on the West Side of Chicago one evening, and a woman approached me. "Wanna' be my boy frien'?" she asked. It didn't take a great deal of genius to figure out that she was looking for a john, not for a long-lasting dating relationship. Needless to say, I declined the offer. And I received a similar offer on another occasion when I was in the Uptown neighborhood, during that first year.

Back in the 90's, I attended the Taste of Chicago event one year. There was a blues musician playing outside at that event. Normally, I might have enjoyed the performance, since I like listening to the blues (and even playing that style of music) from time to time. But one couple was apparently inspired by the music to perform a dance which included some explicit dance moves which were clearly meant to simulate oral sex. The fact that no actual genitalia were displayed did not negate the offensiveness of the act.

It was only a couple of years ago when I was in the Lakeside neighborhood on a weekend when they were holding the Gay Pride parade. A woman on the El platform had a rainbow painted or printed on her T-shirt, along with the words "Taste The Rainbow" and a big arrow pointing directly at her crotch. And here I'd thought that people had learned something from the Biblical stories of Sodom and Gomorrah. Apparently not.

Just the other day, there was a woman standing on the street corner a block away from where I live. She had a T-shirt with the words "I Swallow" printed on it. Hmmm, somehow I don't think she was referring to what she does with her chewing gum, her food or her normal beverages.

A couple of days ago, I was in the McDonald's eating my dinner, when a crazy black woman began talking very loudly to no one in particular, clearly trying to draw attention to herself. (She kept yelling the word "bitch" at regular intervals.) When she walked over to the area where I was sitting, I looked her straight in the eye and said, "No one ever taught you how to behave in public, did they!" Needless to say, this did not endear me to her. She got very close to my table and began arguing with me and ridiculing me, which I took as a compliment, considering the source.

At one point, she turned around and wiggled her behind at me, presumably as a means of daring me to kiss it, although she didn't say those precise words. (Later, however, she did loudly yell something about sucking her genitalia. O.K., she didn't use the word "genitalia", she used a more common word which means the same thing and which has also been used on occasions to describe animals of the feline persuasion.) At one point, she called me a "bitch", which I thought was rather strange. I always thought that bitch was a name for a female dog.

As it turned out, she wasn't there by herself. Her friend was in the ladies room, apparently changing her clothes in order to bathe herself. That woman was buck naked, which I discovered when she showed up at the door with her ugly and shriveled breasts hanging out for all to see. Presumably, she wanted to see who her friend was arguing with, and she couldn't wait until she'd put her clothes back on before satisfying her curiosity. She lingered in the doorway for several brief seconds before closing the door and returning to whatever she'd been doing in there.

Eventually the police showed up and threw the two women out of the restaurant, but not before the first woman had spit in my direction, sending not only saliva but little bits of food flying through the air. Fortunately for me, she was far enough from me at the time that none of the food or spittle hit me.

Now, I don't want to sound like a racist, but the simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the people involved in the aforementioned incidents were black. The "taste the rainbow" woman was white, but she was an exception to the rule.

I know from personal experience that there are a lot of good and decent black folks who would never think of doing things like these things, and I certainly don't want to imply that they would. But the fact remains that there is a significant problem in certain segments of the black community when it comes to little things such as manners and common decency.

This is the kind of society which has been bred by the judgment-free ideologies of the liberals who predominantly run the city of Chicago. God forbid that anyone should suggest that there is any such thing as moral standards to which all must adhere.

I'm slightly surprised that I haven't yet seen anyone copulating in front of the Water Tower. In light of the fact that the moral standards here seem to be declining on a daily basis, such a thing would seem to be the next logical step.